Left to right: Daniel Hixon, occupational therapist; Thomas Ellis; and Courtney Plunkett, physical therapist assistant

Thomas Ellis had a rough early 2018.


It all started with gangrene in his left foot due to peripheral vascular disease in February, which necessitated surgery. His health roller coaster wasn’t over, however. In April, he developed pneumonia in both lungs, and in May, he had to have a below-the-knee amputation on his left leg.


Life Care Center of Ooltewah, Tennessee, helped Ellis recover and be able to walk again. Physical therapists focused on training him for independence in all mobility-related activities of daily living, with an emphasis on manual therapy for better blood flow and prosthetic training once he received his prosthesis on Sept. 1.


Occupational therapists focused on training Ellis in daily self-care tasks like home management skills, bathing, dressing and general hygiene.


“My rehab at Life Care Center of Ooltewah helped reassure me that there are people who are experts at their jobs and love it,” said Ellis. “They saw my determination and did what they know how to do to help reach my goals. I am so thankful to each of the therapists and the nursing staff. I am walking with a walker now, but I will walk on my own very soon.”


Ellis is now independent in his bed mobility and sitting balance and at a supervision level for walking, transfers, standing and most of his self-care tasks. After seven months in medical facilities, he was very excited to return home on Sept. 20.